Therapeutic Space

The Third in the Room:

An enquiry into the role and impact of space in the psychoanalytic process

Katie Hutchinson, July 2020

For as long as I can remember, I have been very sensitive to my surrounding environment. Memories of experiences and emotions are strongly connected to the spaces I was in when they happened. The significant impact that space could have on my own mood and mental state factored heavily into my decision to study architecture at university. Over time, I developed an interest in psychology, which I pursued in parallel to my architecture studies.

During the course of my Part 2 degree at the university of Bath, I was able to delve deeper into the connection between psychology and architecture when writing a research paper about therapeutic space, and also in the design of my final year project: The Tbilisi Institute of Psychotherapy.

My dissertation was focused on the impact of space in the psychoanalytic process, using the consulting rooms of the movement’s founder Sigmund Freud, and his contemporary, Analytical Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, as case studies.

Abstract:

Following its establishment in the late 19th Century, the discipline of psychoanalysis has had a revolutionary impact on mental health treatment. Whilst psychoanalytical theories have been well-examined, the impact of space on the process remains widely unexplored.

This research paper investigates the impact that the spatial environment of the domestic psychoanalytical consulting room has on the process of psychoanalysis. Using archetypal features of confessional space as a framework, derived from analysis of the Catholic confessional chamber, this paper analyses the original consulting rooms of the two most famous proponents of psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung. Using the analysts’ original writings as lenses for exploration, in addition to a detailed review of existing literature, this paper will determine whether space is able to make an active contribution to the psychoanalytical process, assuming the role of the “third in the room”.

A PDF of the complete dissertation is available here.

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